The Simple English Guide to Integrated Marketing Communication

I fly Southwest Airlines almost exclusively. They offer reasonable prices, make it easy to collect points, and always have fun and friendly flight attendants.

One thing I noticed about Southwest is that the branding is on point. Whether I’m booking a flight on the mobile application, serving my ginger ale on the flight, or walking through the terminal at Midway Airport, I’m surrounded by the consistent branding colors, messages and images of Southwest.

This is an example of integrated marketing at work. If you’re interested in delivering a cohesive, consistent brand experience that puts your product or service first – just like Southwest – this guide is for you. Read on to learn more about integrated marketing and creating your own campaign.

Integrated marketing communication

Integrated Marketing Communication aligns your marketing channels to promote your products or services collectively, usually through a strategic campaign. Integrated marketing is also used to target the primary brand message conveyed through your marketing channels and assets.

Imagine discovering a new brand on Instagram and visiting the company’s website to buy one of their products. If their website is promoting a different message or campaign than the one you found on their Instagram account, you have a hard time getting to the core of the brand, right?

Integrated marketing is about eliminating these differences and differences no matter how or when a customer interacts with your brand. It’s similar to multi-channel marketing, only that integrated marketing will target the message you share on all of those channels.

When it comes to channels, integrated marketing doesn’t just apply to your inbound or digital marketing channels. traditional media channels are also included. Many of the integrated marketing examples described below include traditional marketing channels such as print, radio, and television advertising.

Now let’s talk about integrated marketing campaigns.

Why are integrated marketing campaigns effective?

Integrated marketing campaigns can vary in their goals (e.g. converting views, building brand awareness, etc.), but they should all have one component in common: the alignment of your marketing channels to present a unified marketing front.

If your marketing channels are gamers, think of your integrated marketing campaign as the coach responsible for running games and helping your channels work as a unified system – not different ones.

It is also more effective to run integrated marketing campaigns than campaigns on individual channels. Integrated marketing campaigns are important for several reasons:

  • You reach a wider audience than a single marketing channel.
  • You have a greater chance of being seen on multiple channels, which means that your brand is always in view and visitors are closer to the conversion.
  • You build trust with visitors because they see a consistent message across multiple channels.
  • You save money as assets can be shared between different marketing channels and used for other purposes. Depending on your campaign, customers can help you market your product or service for you.

How to create an integrated marketing campaign

  1. Define your overall campaign goal
  2. Choose your marketing channels and set goals for each one
  3. Define your buyer personalities by channel
  4. Identify your channel manager
  5. Build adaptable marketing assets and messaging
  6. Establish your lead-collecting plan
  7. Start, measure and iterate your campaign

So how can you create your own integrated marketing campaign? Follow these steps to get started.

1. Define your overall campaign goal.

Before deciding which channels to include in your integrated marketing campaign, you need to consider the goal of the overall campaign.

Maybe you have started a new product, service or initiative and want to get it in front of customers – like Southwest’s Transfarency. Maybe you have Completely renamed and want to send your new message – like Old Spices, smell like a man, man. Maybe you just have it chose a new positioning slogan and want your audience to associate your brand with it – like Snickers’ you’re not you when you’re hungry.

(Don’t worry, we’ll dig deeper into these examples later.)

Whatever your campaign goal, always remember to make it SMART. That way, you’ll stay focused, track your campaign success, and learn how to improve next time.

These goals should also relate to at least one of the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and their subsequent metrics that you can track when you launch your campaign.

KPI related metrics
Traffic / range Unique page views by channel and source
engagement Bounce rate; average time on page
Top (and falling) content Top page views; Top outputs
A hit Click through; Conversions; Backlinks
feeling Remarks; social shares
Lead generation Total number of leads; Full meetings; Session to guide the conversion rate
sales Lead to Marketing Qualified Lead (MMS); MQL to Sales Qualified Lead (SQL); Customer purchase / closed business

Even if increased engagement and new leads are always exciting, a multi-channel campaign should also take into account the bigger picture: How does your campaign affect sales opportunities and business revenue? Take a moment to figure out how you want your campaign to affect your bottom line as well.

2. Choose your marketing channels and set goals for each one.

Now that you know your overall goal for integrated marketing campaigns, you probably have a better understanding of which (if not all) channels can help you achieve that goal.

For example, if you want to introduce a new logo and branding suite, you don’t necessarily have to use radio advertising. However, if you are expanding your audience to a new geographic area or city, radio, billboard, television, and other local channels can help.

When it comes to choosing your channels, it all boils down to what you want to achieve with your integrated marketing campaign. There are 10 major marketing channels you can use to distribute your campaign content.

Your integrated marketing campaign should include a variety of marketing channels in order to reach the broadest audience and bring your campaign message home. If you see one or more channel plateaus, don’t hesitate to add, remove, or test new ones.

3. Define your buyer personalities by channel.

Each marketing channel targets its own buyer personality. Because of this, you need to define your target audience by channel rather than defining a broad person for your campaign.

There will inevitably be an overlap, but it is wise to understand exactly who you are speaking to on each medium and how to customize those specific assets to be most successful.

Note: Some campaigns may target a specific audience. In this case, steps 2 and 3 are reversed. You first define your buyer personality (s) and then decide which channels can help you reach that audience.

Download our free persona templates to easily organize your audience segments and empower your marketing.

4. Identify your channel manager.

Depending on the size of your marketing team, you may have different people (or entire teams) responsible for different channels. When running a multi-channel marketing campaign, you need to determine who is specifically responsible for ensuring that the channels are aligned with the campaign.

This is important for two reasons: 1) The manager is the expert on their channel (e.g. target audience, cadence, optimization tactics, reporting strategies, etc.) and knows how to customize campaign content to be most successful. and 2) blaming one person for all channels can be overwhelming and cause content and campaign to suffer.

Perhaps you have a smaller marketing team with one person managing multiple channels. Regardless of your team size, do your best to distribute channel management responsibilities among a few people – ideally with one person managing one or two channels.

5. Create customizable marketing assets and messaging.

At this point, you have your campaign goal, target audience (s) and your marketing channels. Now is the time to create your integrated marketing campaign content. This is where copywriting, graphic design, and other creative processes come into play.

Before I dive into the topic, I’d like to dwell on an important component of integrated marketing content: adaptability. To keep your campaign consistent (and reduce your workload), you should be able to reuse all of the content that will be used across different channels.

For example, let’s say your integrated marketing campaign is focused on launching a new 3-minute branded video. You can convert this video to:

  • 30-second and 1-minute trailer videos
  • Still images
  • Quotes
  • GIFs
  • Hashtags
  • Blog posts
  • Soundbites

As you develop and reuse these creative assets, keep them in line with your brand guidelines and in harmony with one another. In fact, it can be helpful to create your own branding guidelines for your integrated marketing campaign that you can share with your team and all channel managers.

This documentation can contain a few things:

  • Visual guidelines (logo, color palette, typography, etc.)
  • All developed and repurposed assets in multiple file formats
  • Language and tone guidelines (slogans, preferred language, words to avoid, etc.)
  • Messaging policies (vulnerabilities, goals, types of content, resources, etc.)
  • Information and guidelines on the person of the buyer

Integrated marketing is all about a consistent brand experience. Make sure your campaign assets reflect this regardless of which channel your target audience is visiting or seeing.

6. Establish your lead-collecting plan.

Whether or not you want your campaign to generate leads, you should always be prepared to receive them. You don’t want to leave this behind once you’ve started your campaign. Even if you’re just running campaigns to increase brand awareness, consider how your visitors can turn into leads and ultimately customers.

First, consider how a visitor might convert to a lead. Would you subscribe to your newsletter? Are you entering your information to download a content offering? Create an account on your website? Make sure these conversion aspects of your campaign are branded for the rest of your visual and messaging resources as well.

Next, consider how your leads will be cared for after their conversion. Would they flow into an automated email workflow? Would you pass them on to sales? Whichever way you go about this step, make sure that once your leads are willingly sharing their information, they won’t be forgotten.

As always, communicate with sales to confirm they’re aware of your campaign and get involved in your new lead and customer plan.

7. Start, measure and iterate your campaign.

Ready to launch your integrated marketing campaign? It might be time to get your campaign up and running … but it’s not time to rest yet.

Do you remember those KPIs and metrics from step one? Regardless of which KPIs relate to your overall campaign goal (e.g. increase brand awareness, renaming, new product, etc.), keep track of these following metrics every week, every month and every quarter (depending on how long your campaign is running ) to determine how successful she is at achieving your goal.

As always, take what you learn from each integrated marketing campaign and apply it to future campaigns. With the right strategies, managers, and tools, you can create – and win – a never-ending cycle of integrated marketing campaigns.

Integrated marketing strategies and best practices

There are a few key strategies and best practices to keep in mind when creating your integrated marketing campaign. We have described them in detail here and they apply regardless of which media, channels or destinations you have selected.

Align yourself behind the scenes.

In order to successfully implement an integrated approach to marketing, not only do you need to select marketing channel managers, but all of your marketing managers often communicate through projects and campaigns.

While not every integrated marketing campaign or advertisement has to take place on all of your channels, they should at least complement each other to avoid a fragmented brand experience for customers.

Look at the channel transition.

Integrated campaigns receive traffic from a number of sources – and pass those sources on like a game of hot potato. Think about how a visitor can see / experience each marketing channel 1) if it was their first visit and 2) if they switched from another channel. Think about how each channel can help others convert.

For example, suppose a customer saw your new billboard on their way to work and visited the website on the billboard when they arrived. Imagine if the customer couldn’t easily find what your billboard was marketing on your website. How confusing would that be? That customer would likely drop off right away.

Don’t neglect the small overlaps.

As you prepare to launch your integrated marketing campaign, it’s tempting to look at each channel and its respective media resources separately. This thought process, however, inherently contradicts the ethos of integrated marketing. Integrated marketing is about breaking down the silos of traditional marketing and bringing together a cohesive campaign experience.

For this reason, don’t neglect the places where your campaign overlaps. Here are some examples:

  • Your email signature to paste your social media handles, website urls, or video links into
  • Your social media biographies and posts where you can include links to your website, blog posts, content offers, or other digital content
  • Your blog and website where you can include social sharing buttons
  • Your independent landing pages on which you can optimize for relevant keywords and SEO
  • Your PPC copy where you can test subject lines to see what your audience is responding to

This overlap may not directly support your campaign goals, but it will help your audience seamlessly switch channels, enjoy the consistent, cohesive brand experience, and ultimately find their way to a page that converts them.

Examples of integrated marketing communication

  1. Smell like a man, man from Old Spice
  2. Transfarency from Southwest Airlines
  3. You are not you when you are hungry for Snickers
  4. Share a Coke from Coca-Cola
  5. Grow better with HubSpot

Every marketer knows how much you can learn from those in front of you. In this section, we’ve rounded up a handful of well-executed integrated marketing campaigns to give you an example of how successful this tactic can be.

1. Smell like a man, man from Old Spice

For years I associated Old Spice with something only my father or grandfather would wear. I can remember the old, white bottle of aftershave – the one with the faded pirate ship – that used to be in my father’s closet.

Example of an integrated marketing old spice old bottle

I don’t think I’m the only one who owned this club. So it’s no surprise that Old Spice launched a major rebranding campaign in 2010 to make their products feel more youthful, playful – and ultimately attract a younger audience. Old Spice not only changed the design of their packaging, but also renamed their products and created a new slogan (“Smell Like a Man, Man”).

The first campaign launch included a 30-second TV commercial, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, which was so popular that Old Spice launched a handful of others.

But Old Spice didn’t stop at television commercials. They also included their website, product pages, Instagram, YouTube and other channels in their campaign.

No, they don’t all have the specific characters or slogans from the original TV commercials (remember, the campaign started almost 10 years ago), but they reflect the same tone, theme and brand, thus offering customers a consistent look Brand experience across all media.

Integrated marketing example old spice website

2. Transfarency from Southwest Airlines

I discussed Southwest Airlines’ consistent branding at the beginning of this article. One campaign that stands out is the Transfarency movement, which introduced a brand new word that Southwest marketed as an airline with straightforward prices and no hidden fees.

The campaign was originally launched in 2015, but Southwest has since put in stages to release new elements and introduce more themes and stories. These tactics helped elongate the campaign message and really cement the connection between flying southwest and saving air fares.

Southwest used almost every possible marketing channel to broadcast this campaign: a dedicated landing page where you buy tickets, print ads that are posted on airport walls and hidden behind airplane seats, a series of video spots, and a lot of user-generated content on their social media.

Example of an integrated marketing Southwest Instagram

3. You are not you when you are hungry for Snickers

Snickers is one of my favorite chocolate bars, so I was paying close attention when I saw commercials for their “You are not you when you are hungry” commercials.

This Snickers campaign, which started at the 2010 Super Bowl, has remained an issue for chocolate and candy lovers everywhere.

One reason for this is the campaign’s humor, but the other, more pertinent, reason is that Snickers has included this movement everywhere … on its website, on social media, on television, in print ads, and more. By presenting a coordinated, cohesive integrated marketing campaign, customers now think of Snickers when they crave a sweet snack – and the company has benefited from it.

Integrated Marketing Example Snickers Billboard

4. Share a Coke from Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign was unique in that the company put its customers first by putting names and funny phrases on its product. This not only resulted in endless advertising angles, but also endless user-generated content from customers who want to share products with their own name. The hashtag #ShareaCoke was shared over 500,000+ customer photos.

Cola share a Cola integrated marketing campaign

When this campaign peaked, I took photos of Cokes and even bought them with the names of my friends and family. It appears others were doing the same – the campaign increased coke use from 1.7 billion to 1.9 billion daily servings.

5. Get better with HubSpot

HubSpot has tons of digital properties – blog, website, social media channels, and SaaS products. This level of diversity requires a lot of consistency in messaging and marketing.

HubSpot recently set its ultimate vision to help customers grow better – all customers on all channels. To promote this news, all content has been updated to reflect this vision.

Hubspot for integrated marketing communication grows better

The news may be short, but the implications are big. Wherever customers interact with HubSpot, integrated marketing has made sure they know how HubSpot works – and why they should become a customer.

Integrated marketing helps you grow better

Integrated marketing turns your marketing campaigns into multi-channel movements. In today’s omnichannel world where consumers are getting to know your brand online, on social media, and on their daily journey, integrated marketing is more important than ever to attract new customers and build brand awareness and loyalty.

Implement these steps and strategies for your next integrated marketing campaign and it is sure to be a success.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for completeness.

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